In 1896, former Confederate States of America cavalryman Bennett H Young dedicated this unique seven foot statue of a ‘galvanized Yankee’. In 1997, it was listed as one of sixty-one different monuments related to the Civil War in Kentucky placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Young was a Nicholasville native and had an intriguing Civil War service record. Following hostilities, he fled to Europe and returned to the US in 1868 and became an attorney in Louisville.
In 2021, author Ben Montgomery wrote the book A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South. His work featured the former Confederate Bennett H. Young. A year before he dedicated the Jessamine County Confederate Memorial, Young represented African American George Dimming in a suit against the KKK for defending his home against the armed mob. Dimming had been arrested for his violent action but after conviction was pardoned by the Kentucky Governor.
He then moved to Indiana but decided to file suit against the men that had attacked him. Bennett won the case and Dimming was awarded $50,000. In a June 10, 2020 article for the Kaintuckeean, Peter Brackney, said this about Dimming’s advocate, “Though he wrote a definitive history of the county, his own past indentified him as one who fought against the United States during the Civil War. By glorifying a ‘Lost Cause,’ he was part of the effort to rewrite history.”
Bennett was the author of at least eight books during his lifetime and was one of four keynote speakers, along with President Woodrow Wilson and Grand Army of the Republic Commander–in-Chief Washington Gardner, at the dedication of the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. This monument had its beginnings in 1898, when then US President William McKinley, a Civil War Union veteran, proposed, ‘in the spirit of fraternity we should share with you in care of the graves of Confederate Soldiers’. The monument was carved by former Confederate soldier Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish man and dedicated in 1914.
On February 17, 2021, Fred Petke of The Jessamine Journal wrote a column about the Confederate monument Bennett Young dedicated in Nicholasville in 1896. Petke wrote in part referring to the war memorial, “The cause for which the Old South committed treason and tore the country apart in bloody strife was the preservation of slavery.” Jessamine County Judge Executive David West is quoted in the article as saying, “Let’s take the Confederacy off of it.”
As a response to Brackney’s June, 2020, article, Diana Maldonado responded online to the Kaintuckeean website by writing, “I am opposed to removing statues for politically correct reasons or otherwise. The presence of historical statues has not in the least bit hindered the racial progress achieved in this country …I’ll warrant the majority of JC [Jessamine County] citizens were unaware of who the statue represented, other than brave soldiers who gave their lives for a cause, right or wrong. One could make the argument that soldiers fighting for any cause, even keeping our freedom, were on the wrong side because war is abhorrent.”
Linda Blackford writing for the Lexington Herald Leader on December 17, 2020, said this about the Jessamine County shrine, “Like most Confederate monuments, the statue was Southern propaganda.”